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Status Signals: A Sociological Study of Market Competition [Kindle Edition]

Joel M. Podolny
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Why are elite jewelers reluctant to sell turquoise, despite strong demand? Why did leading investment bankers shun junk bonds for years, despite potential profits? Status Signals is the first major sociological examination of how concerns about status affect market competition. Starting from the basic premise that status pervades the ties producers form in the marketplace, Joel Podolny shows how anxieties about status influence whom a producer does (or does not) accept as a partner, the price a producer can charge, the ease with which a producer enters a market, how the producer's inventions are received, and, ultimately, the market segments the producer can (and should) enter. To achieve desired status, firms must offer more than strong past performance and product quality--they must also send out and manage social and cultural signals.

Through detailed analyses of market competition across a broad array of industries--including investment banking, wine, semiconductors, shipping, and venture capital--Podolny demonstrates the pervasive impact of status. Along the way, he shows how corporate strategists, tempted by the profits of a market that would negatively affect their status, consider not only whether to enter the market but also whether they can alter the public's perception of the market. Podolny also examines the different ways in which a firm can have status. Wal-Mart, for example, has low status among the rich as a place to shop, but high status among the rich as a place to invest.

Status Signals provides a systematic understanding of market dynamics that have--until now--not been fully appreciated.

Editorial Reviews


"This is a terrific book, a must-read. It will undoubtedly wield tremendous influence on the development of economic sociology."

From the Inside Flap

"This is a terrific book, a must-read. It will undoubtedly wield tremendous influence on the development of economic sociology."--Ezra W. Zuckerman, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"This book will appeal not only to organizational and economic sociologists but also to scholars in areas such as social inequality and status attainment, as well as to micro and industrial organization economists. Podolny advances his arguments with great care, and tests them with painstaking precision. The value of his ideas, and the research they will inspire, make this a worthy contribution to a number of fields."--Mark Mizruchi, Professor of Sociology and Business Administration, University of Michigan, author of The Structure of Corporate Political Action

Product Details

  • File Size: 3994 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (August 8, 2005)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004D29ZNY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #910,176 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reputation Signals? December 29, 2009
`Status' is not a term widely used in economic analysis, but it is extremely common in sociological theory. Social status may be inherited, it may be acquired at great cost, and it can be dissipated through insouciance and poor judgment. Like material wealth, high status both causes and is a sign of social dominance. How, then, does social status relate to traditional economic variables? The answer is doubtless complex and ill-understood. However, in this book Podolny restricts his study to the relative status of firms in an industry, with special attention to investment banking and retail jewelry. By choosing to study firms, Podolny faces an immediate problem: status in sociological theory is well-studied and categorized as an attribute of individuals and families embedded in complex social networks, but not of firms competing in the open market. Podolny handles this problem by situating his study within the network branch of what is known as the "new economic sociology." This research area owes its inspiration to a paper by sociologist Harrison White, "Where Do Markets Come From?" American Journal of Sociology 87 (1981): 517-547, followed by a famous declaration of purpose written by White's student Mark Granovetter, "Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness" American Journal of Sociology 91 (1885): 481-510. Granovetter noted that economic theory assumes that economic actors are socially isolated Homo Economicus type that prices and market conditions as given and simply maximize utility. This assumption is tenable only if it is reasonable to assume that all economic exchanges are completely specified and costlessly enforced (e.g., by the judiciary). Read more ›
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good overview of author's work on status of firms October 3, 2009
By Jackal
This is a good overview of the author's conception of status, which is provided in the introductory chapters. There is no grand theorising in the book, everything is empirically driven and several previously published studies are described in later chapters. For those of you who have read some of the author's academic articles, this book is valuable because this time he is very clear in defining what he means with status (and how it is different from reputation).

It would have been nice with a bit more deep and fundamental discussion of status in the first couple of chapters. However, that is another book. The target audience for this book is only academics studying organizational theory.
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3 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Perhaps more than anyone, Joel Podolny has explored the social dynamics of organizational status. Contrary to much conventional wisdom, organizational status reflects much more than an organization's quality (although that certainly is part of it). Podolny shows us why this is so and some of its implications.
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